Shhh! No more talk about Tampa Bay Rays stadium sites in Hillsborough, Hagan says
TAMPA -- Ever since St. Petersburg opened the door for the Tampa Bay Rays to find a new stadium in the region, there’s been plenty of speculation on where the team might end up if they move east of the bay.
Would Tampa Park Apartments work? Could Jefferson High School be moved? Might ConAgra sell the land around the old flour mill?
No more of that, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said at Wednesday’s commission meeting.
Hagan told commissioners that there won’t be any more public discussion about future stadium sites from himself or any of the other members of the Hillsborough group courting the Rays. Such disclosure, he said, would have a “disastrous impact” on efforts by the team and county to secure a location for a new stadium.
“I recognize the importance of transparency throughout this process,” Hagan said. “We cannot, and we will not, negotiate in public.
“There will be times when sensitive discussions occur and those circumstances we will need to defer on specifics,” especially when it comes to potential sites, he added.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Sports Authority president Eric Hart, Sykes Enterprises CEO Chuck Sykes and Fifth Third Bank Tampa Bay president Brian Lamb make up the rest of the working group negotiating with the Rays. Hagan said they have not discussed potential sites for stadium financing.
To date, Buckhorn has been not been shy about his preference: Tampa Park Apartments, a nearly 50-year-old apartment complex for 372 low-income families between downtown and Ybor City.
"I don't hide my optimism for that particular site," he said in January.
The Rays have provided some guidance to the Hillsborough working group on what they will look for in a stadium site: Somewhere that can be a catalyst for development, regional connectivity, site accessibility and local authenticity with the stadium.
Hagan said the next step for the county is to hire the services of financial advisers and announced the county will put out a request for bids for that work.